Getting It Right READING THE SIGNS–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for newly released M/M sports romance from Keira Andrews. I’ve always admired Ms. Andrews’ contemporary romances, be they Amish (A FORBIDDEN RUMSPRINGA) or disaster-related (BEYOND THE SEA), but I really fell hard for the yummy older/younger, slightly kinky, love affair that bloomed between pitcher and catcher in READING THE SIGNS.

signsAbout the book:
This hot-headed rookie needs discipline—on and off the field.
Pitcher Nico Agresta is desperate to live up to his family’s baseball legacy. Since he was a teenager crushing on his big brother’s teammate, he’s known he can’t act on his desires. His father’s made it clear there should be no queers on the field, but if Nico can win Rookie of the Year like his dad and brother did, maybe he can prove he’s worthy after all.

At 34, veteran catcher Jake Fitzgerald just wants to finish out his contract and retire. His team doesn’t have a prayer of making the playoffs, but who needs the stress? Jake lost his passion for the game—and life—after driving away the man he loved, and he swore he’d never risk his heart again.

Then he’s traded to a team that wants a vet behind the plate to tame their new star pitcher. Jake is shocked to find the gangly kid he once knew has grown into a gorgeous young man. But tightly wound Nico’s having trouble controlling his temper in his quest for perfection, and Jake needs to teach him patience and restraint on the mound.

When their push and pull explodes into the bedroom, Nico and Jake will both learn how much they’ll risk for love.

This gay sports romance features men who have been repressing their feelings far too long, light BDSM, an age difference, sweaty locker rooms, and a happy ending.

My Review:
I absolutely loved this delicious, slightly kinky, M/M baseball romance.

Jake Fitzgerald is a seasoned veteran catcher in the big leagues, and he’s got a comfortable life playing for a team that’s never in contention come October. While closeted, Jake has a casual arrangement with a married couple who enjoy a third now and again. He never has to worry about the only man he ever loved, his ex-best friend Brandon, who was long ago traded to Toronto. He doesn’t have to worry at all, really. His mother has long encouraged him to come out and find a suitable life partner, but Jake doesn’t want to get hurt, not like when Brandon found the love of his life and married her. Jake wants to go through the motions of life, hiding his heart and his true self from the limelight until he retires in a couple seasons.

Until he’s traded to Ottawa. To a young expansion team hungry to make the playoffs and needing a cool head behind the plate to guide their hot-shot pitchers, especially Nico Agresta.

Nico is a rookie, having a stellar season on the mound, except for his temper. Once he loses control, even for a moment, he piles all his mistakes into an unscalable mountain. And, his casually homophobic father never lets up on Nico. A retired Hall of Famer, Al Agresta is ready with six comments on how Nico can improve his performance the second Nico steps off the mound. Nico’s quietly grateful that he plays in Ottawa, and not Chicago like his elder brother, just so he gets a break from their father’s scrutiny. Not that Nico ever stops berating himself. For not being straight, or for being the reason his mother died. He’s only more unsettled when Jake joins the team and begins working with him regularly. Jake was Nico’s first crush–years ago Jake and Nico’s brother played together, and Jake spent many a Sunday dinner at their house. It was natural for Jake to take Nico under his wing and help him with his fastball. Now, Nico’s ashamed of all the fantasies he’d built around Jake as a horny teen–and he’s mortified to find himself only more attracted as a grown, and sexually unsatisfied, man. He’s been with lots of women, hoping to find one that would spark more than just a perfunctory release, but one smile from Jake has him panting. He can’t escape his lust–which turns Nioc’s anxiety setting up to 20.

Jake and Nico reconnect, and Jake can’t help finding this all-grown version of Nico completely enticing. That he’s a brat in the clubhouse isn’t appealing however, and one incendiary moment burns both of their better sense to ashes. Nico’s attitude needs immediate correction, and Jake’s dominant hackles have been raised. The rest is whoa.

They know they can’t mess around near the team, but the peace Nico gains when Jake takes control is more than he can give up. Expect a little bit of kink. Spanking, dominating, a little bondage. Reminded me of BULL DURHAM, how Annie gets Nuke to think of other things on the mound so he can just throw the ball. Jake doesn’t make him “respect the streak” or anything. They develop a closeness that neither man had ever experienced before, even if it’s all behind closed doors. Even if it means Jake putting up with Al’s homophobic tripe at a home-cooked dinner when Ottawa comes to Chi-Town.

I absolutely loved the slow burn, and multi-layered characters. Al’s not a bad guy–he’s antiquated and old school, think Yogi Berra with a chip on his shoulder. But, when he learns the truth of Nico and his sexuality, Al reconsiders. Al measures his words, and the impact they had on his youngest child. Al…changes. It’s not miraculous, but there is improvement. And, when news breaks regarding Nico and Jake, well, Nico has his dad’s love and fierce protection in a way he’d never dreamed possible. People talk about mama bears–Al Agresta is freaking grizzly. I also loved how Jake came to terms with his past mistakes, and mends the friendships he’d wounded in silence, and intent. I also really liked how his attitude changed regarding baseball. He started out jaded and willing to coast, but the season in Ottawa sparked his love of the game again.

I loved the book, because it felt real and wild. I do hope the MLB would support it’s out players in the way Nico and Jake were, and fans would be as spectacular IRL as in fiction.

Interested? You can find READING THE SIGNS on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, AllRomance, and Smashwords.

Keira AndrewsAbout the Author:
After writing for years yet never really finding the right inspiration, Keira discovered her voice in gay romance, which has become a passion. She writes contemporary, historical, paranormal and fantasy fiction, and—although she loves delicious angst along the way—Keira firmly believes in happy endings. For as Oscar Wilde once said, “The good ended happily, and the bad unhappily. That is what fiction means.”

You can catch up with Keira on her website, Facebook, twitter, and Goodreads.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

Scared New World–FIGHT THE TIDE–Release Day Review and Author Interview!

Hi there! Today I get to welcome a fave author to my blog! I’ve read and reviewed at least five M/M romances from Keira Andrews, and I’ve loved each one. FIGHT THE TIDE, her newest book, launches today! It’s the sequel to KICK AT THE DARKNESS, one of my favorite books of 2015.

I had to reach out and get some comments from Keira on writing, her plans for the future, and Olympic opinions. Catch my interview and review below.

Fight the Tide (Kick at the Darkness, #2)About the book:
Adrift in a post-apocalyptic world, they only have each other. Is it enough?
A virus that turns the infected into zombie-like killers spreads through a burning world thrown into lawless chaos. Lovers Parker and Adam have escaped to the open sea when they hear a message over the airwaves from a place called Salvation Island—a supposed safe haven.

Orphaned as a child, werewolf Adam has always longed for a pack. He’s eager to investigate the island, but Parker doesn’t think for a nanosecond that the voice on the radio can be believed. He doesn’t trust anyone but Adam and is determined to keep it that way. They don’t need anyone else complicating their struggle to survive. Or do they?

Danger on the high seas can surface in a heartbeat, and if Parker and Adam aren’t careful, the current will drag them under.

This gay romance is a dystopian adventure featuring a werewolf, his boyfriend, and their struggle to find a place to call home.

Some fun thoughts from Author Keira Andrews…odd-ball questions provided by moi!

Kick At The Darkness and Fight the Tide are your first steps into paranormal fiction. Do you have plans to write more books in the genre?
I do! There’s going to be a third book in this series about Parker and Adam, and then a fourth centered on a character you’ll meet in Fight the Tide. I’ve really enjoyed writing paranormal, so will likely write supernatural books not connected to this series in the future as well.

What is your best tool keeping you happy and motivated as a full-time writer?
I truly love writing romance and although it’s a job with pros and cons like any job, my genuine passion for it keeps me motivated. If I’m feeling particularly lazy or burned out, I think about how much I hated working in an office. Imagining myself back in a cubicle is an excellent inspiration to get my butt in gear!

From your social media, it seems you are a huge fan of Olympic sports. Being that you’re Canadian, do you prefer Winter or Summer Games? What events are you most looking forward to watching in the 2016 Summer Games?
I am indeed a huge Olympic sports fan, and yep, as a Canadian (and a massive figure skating nut), the Winter Games are my fave. I do love the Summer Games as well, and I’m really looking forward to the diving, rowing, and gymnastics in particular. American gymnast Simone Biles is phenomenal, and I can’t wait to see her crush it.

What is your favorite trope in romance writing? Older-younger? First love? Enemies-to-lovers?
So hard to choose, but I definitely have an affinity for an age difference. Looking at my backlist, it comes up a lot! So does hate to love, and I also really enjoy a virgin. 😀

If you could only have either Marilla or Matthew Cuthbert as your parent, who would you choose, and why?
Ohhh, that’s a tough one. They’re both so wonderful in their own way. This is like Thunderdome. I guess I’d have to choose Matthew since he’s just so sweet and kind. And now that I’ve been pondering it, I really need to bust out my Anne of Green Gables DVDs!

My Review:

This is the second book in a series, and should be read after KICK AT THE DARKNESS. Some spoilers for KICK AT THE DARKNESS included.

It’s contemporary times, but it’s also the end of times. The world was infected with a virus that has decimated the population and turned the infected into mindless zombies. Adam and Parker were students at Stanford, Adam a 23 y/o films studies grad student, and Parker an 18 y/o freshman in Adam’s class when everything went bananas. They escaped California on Adam’s motorcycle and headed east, to see if Parker’s family survived the carnage. Along the way they were attacked, fell for each other, confessed some startling secrets, got over themselves, were held hostage, escaped from real and present dangers–many times–and hit the coast. Only to discover Parker’s family long gone.

They bundled up and took off for safety in a yacht, and that’s where Fight the Tide picks up. Parker and Adam are making their way south along the east coast. Parker is a trained sailor; his family owned a yacht and he sailed regularly in his childhood. That said, he’s never made such a long trip without more skilled partners–his father and elder brother–and he knows going into the open ocean is a very dangerous prospect. Staying close to shore isn’t easy either. It’s nearing the end of hurricane season, but storms could disable their boat, or send it crashing to the shore. Being near the coast allows them to drop into port now and again to scavenge supplies. Adam, who is a werewolf, always makes these trips as he’s immune to the virus, and his heightened strength and senses allow him to avoid or overcome any zombies that attack. That doesn’t help Parker, alone on the boat, when pirates board.

Despite Parker’s general wariness, he helps rescue a boat in a storm, picking up two adults and their kids. This companionship is mostly welcome, especially by Adam, who is a drifter and grateful for any pack he can cobble together. Adam and the other adults want to make sail for Salvation Island, a place not on any of Parker’s maps, yet whose beacons come across the radio frequencies every evening. Parker’s sure it’s another trap, and is adamantly against, but circumstances force even his will–when he needs to get help for one of his passengers.

There is constant action in this book. It’s a rollicking ride, with danger lurking from page-to-page. Parker isn’t good with people, and his suspicious nature is bolstered with each new tragedy. He’s also haunted by the pirate attack, and he’s ashamed that he can’t move past it. Adam’s a bulwark, but he can’t be everything for Parker. Plus, the calls of Salvation Island prove to be a siren song he has trouble resisting. I think if Adam had the ability to sail that far, he’d have forced Parker’s hand much sooner.

Despite the harrowing plot, there is still a strong romance here. Parker and Adam are two men in love, and they take great pleasure exploring their relationship in ways that were soopa-hawt. Serious. I had to stop and fan myself at times. As the book drew near it’s end, I was glad to watch Parker and Adam make it to safety, even as the seeds for a third book were clearly sown. Safety shouldn’t be the only goal, in Adam’s mind, not when there are so many humans struggling. I foresee a werewolf invasion, one that liberates humans and hopefully helps eradicate the virus–but that’s my own hope! Also, the author has mentioned a fourth, related, book, and I expect it will involve one of Parker’s rescues–Jacob–who will *fingers crossed* find a safe haven and partner down the road.

For paranormal/post-apocalyptic stories, this one’s really on the contemporary-realistic side of those genres. There’s little shifting, and the zombie menace is easy to imagine. I liked the elements of sailing included here, and thought it reflected a wealth of carefully-collected and sparingly delivered knowledge of actual sailing. I never felt overwhelmed by it; and I grasped how dangerous it was–in a way I had never really expected. In short, it felt so real, I could nearly taste the salty ocean spray on my face. I’m so in on this series, I might need to take drastic measures to get book 3 as soon as possible. Highly recommend!

Interested? You can find FIGHT THE TIDE on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo, AllRomance, and Smashwords.

Keira AndrewsAbout the Author:
After writing for years yet never really finding the right inspiration, Keira discovered her voice in gay romance, which has become a passion. She writes contemporary, historical, paranormal and fantasy fiction, and—although she loves delicious angst along the way—Keira firmly believes in happy endings. For as Oscar Wilde once said, “The good ended happily, and the bad unhappily. That is what fiction means.”

You can catch up with Keira on her website, Facebook, twitter, and Goodreads.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

Finding Love BEYOND THE SEA–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a new contemporary M/M romance from Keira Andrews. You know I’ve enjoyed her books about gay Amish love (A FORBIDDEN RUMSPINGA, A CLEAN BREAK, and A WAY HOME) and epidemic disaster survival (KICK AT THE DARKNESS) so I had to get her latest release. BEYOND THE SEA is a fascinating story of survival and love that develops when one least expects it.

Beyond the SeaAbout the book:
Even if it means quitting their boy band mid-tour, Troy Tanner isn’t going to watch his little brother snort his future away after addiction destroyed their father. On a private jet taking him home from Australia, he and pilot Brian Sinclair soar above the vast South Pacific. Brian lost his passion for flying—and joy in life—after a traumatic crash, but now he and Troy must fight to survive when a cyclone strikes without warning.

Marooned a thousand miles from civilization, the turquoise water and white sand beach look like paradise. But although they can fish and make fire, the smallest infection or bacteria could be deadly. When the days turn into weeks with no sign of rescue, Troy and Brian grow closer, and friendship deepens into desire.

As they learn sexuality is about more than straight or gay and discover their true selves, the world they’ve built together is thrown into chaos. If Troy and Brian make it off the island, can their love endure?

My Review:
Troy is a member of a boy band fleeing his drug abusing bandmate/brother Tyson after learning his bro’s on heroin. Brian is the co-pilot on the long range charter flight to bring Troy from Australia to LA.

The plane crashes, killing the pilot, leaving Brian and Troy marooned on a desert isle in the uninhabited atolls of the south Pacific. They are lucky to have survived, and to find nourishment on the island. They set to work surviving, in the hope of being found. They bond. Slowly, Troy–the sunny optimist–begins to realize what Brian has known all along…a rescue is unlikely, and less likely with every passing day. It’s a hard truth to own, as Troy feels terribly guilty for chartering the plane. He agonizes over Tyson’s well-being, and he’s lonely. He is used to never truly being alone, and this isolation with Brian is both a comfort and a curse. He’s held tight to some very ugly secrets and this connection to Brian–as the closest confidante he’s ever had–is confusing for him. He admires Brian, and this admiration leads to feelings of intimacy that he questions, a bit.

Brian, for his part, is overwhelmed by loss. This was not his first plane crash and he never anticipated surviving another. He’s stunned at how well Troy takes to marooned life. He’d expected a diva, and he’s pleasantly surprised at Troy’s unfailing strength and constantly upbeat nature. As an introvert, Brian needs some alone time, and soon recognizes that he looks forward to seeing Troy more and more. His usual erotic fantasies aren’t cutting it, not when Troy’s image intervenes. This is troubling to Brian, but not too much. Troy is the closest friend he’s had in…ever? He’s sexually frustrated, but that’s a small issue. Brian had closed himself off to his friendships a few years before and his forced occupation with Troy opens wounds he’d thought healed. Together, Troy and Brian find companionship and connection they hadn’t experienced, and it’s great for them. It leads to some sexual experimentation, and that helps to bond them closer.

I totally enjoyed this book. I was so captivated by the survival aspects and how these guys made it work. There are really harrowing bits, from the crash to the establishment of shelter, and the creepy-crawlies in the jungle. I liked how they had to work hard to survive, to some degree. Likewise, their attraction is something the characters work for. They get to know each other. They learn to like each other. They are deeply connected friends before they are anything more. Each man has a bit of a crisis with regard to their developing attraction. At first it’s all: We’re the last two people on the planet, practically, so why should we get bogged in societal norms/issues. They each adjust their hetero minds into a more “bi” space. As they experience more physical intimacy their feelings creep into love–and that’s when it gets a whole lot more complicated.

Whatever people may feel about Gay For You as a trope, I think that there are a lot of people who believe themselves to be bisexual and resist same-sex attraction for myriad reasons. I enjoy stories that have characters make big choices and have big adventures. I enjoy stories that have some logical progression, and I’m rather certain that survivors on a desert isle would likely find physical and emotional solace with each other. Of course, I grew up watching THE BLUE LAGOON on cable TV and, well, two healthy, isolated, straight dudes tentatively getting it on (okay it was some yummy sexytimes!) is nothing compared to two Victorian cousins discovering puberty, love and sexuality together… at least not in my 9 y/o brain.

Interested? You can find BEYOND THE SEA on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo, Smashwords, and AllRomance.

Keira AndrewsAbout the Author:
After writing for years yet never really finding the right inspiration, Keira discovered her voice in gay romance, which has become a passion. She writes contemporary, historical, paranormal and fantasy fiction, and—although she loves delicious angst along the way—Keira firmly believes in happy endings. For as Oscar Wilde once said, “The good ended happily, and the bad unhappily. That is what fiction means.”

You can catch up with Keira on her website, Facebook, twitter, and Goodreads.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

What happened to 2015?!

book meme 6So…wow! The year’s end already? I’m a bit stunned, but also grateful. Some years whoosh by like a snowplow burying me under, but this year I’ve had the opportunity to read some really fun books, travel and interact with fantastic authors and review-types, like myself, and enjoy many moments along the way.

I’ve mentioned in the past that I also write, and I’m at the point of sending out a manuscript to agents coming next week. Fingers crossed that I’ll have the chance to promote some of my own fiction one day soon!

Book meme 3For the blog, I’ve gotten some great stats. Nearly 13,000 pages views this year. Not bad for a relatively unknown chick who drones on and on about books. If you’ve signed up to get my posts emailed, you’re in good company–140 of you special folks right now. Thanks for joining me on this madcap escapade! Lots of people are finding my reviews, and reading them/sharing them. I appreciate that so much, because it’s not easy reading and writing content to support the blog. It takes hours and hours each day, in fact. My hubs will attest he’d much rather I gave (most of) it up, so I could just sit and veg out watching TV with him…crossing his fingers that that might ever happen. TV is not really my thing.

book meme 5

Goodreads tells me I read 375 books this year, but it’s been more. I didn’t log all my reads, though there are few that didn’t get reviews there. I have had a great time working with Joyfully Jay Reviews, picking up some excellent reads through their platform and generally interacting with those lovely folks. Authors have reached out to me and I’ve reached back, supporting their fiction in the best way I can. That’s a wonderfully rewarding experience, emotionally, and helps my pocketbook from getting TOO frayed. Yes, there are books that I do buy, and I cherish all my books–whether they were purchased or gifted for my review.

As this is a year’s end recap, it’s apt to highlight some books/series that got into my brain in the past 12 months.

Best read of the year:
No question it was CARRY THE OCEAN by Heidi Cullinan. This book touched my soul and left it altered for the better. Having suffered depression in my life, and having close friends/family with kids on the Autism Spectrum, this plain-spoken M/M romance between a brilliant autistic man and his depressive neighbor was spectacular.

Best YA read:
NOT IF I SEE YOU FIRST by Eric Lindstrom. Touching tale of an orphaned blind girl who learns to “see” everyone she knows in the best light–even herself.

Best YA series:
I’ve really enjoyed reading the Backstage Pass series of contemporary YA romances between the members of the boy band Seconds To Juliet and the smart, worthwhile girls the boys all fall for. There are five books in the series, and I think I reviewed 4 of them…
Abby and the Cute One, Mia and the Bad Boy, Anya and the Shy Guy, Daisy and the Front Man.

Book Meme-1Best Adrenaline Rush:
KICK AT THE DARKNESS by Keira Andrews, a zombie apocalypse M/M romance kept me glued to my iPad long into the night, and the next day.

Best SciFi series:
I’ve really enjoyed the AI world carved out by Susan Kaye Quinn’s Legacy Human series. It’s a bit dystopian, a bit tech and a bit romance. And I love all those bits! Looking forward to reading more of this in 2016. THE LEGACY HUMAN, THE DUALITY BRIDGE, STORIES OF SINGULARITY.

Best contemporary New Adult series:
Karen Stivali’s Moments in Time series is really a must read for me. This is a contemporary M/M romance which is emotional and sexy, at the same time. I’ve loved all four Moments books so far, and eagerly anticipate the next release. MOMENT OF IMPACT, MOMENT OF TRUTH, MOMENT OF CLARITY, and MOMENT OF SILENCE.
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Best Paranormal Romance:
THE SECRET CASEBOOK OF SIMON FEXIMAL by KJ Charles rocked my world and set it right again. Historical M/M paranormal romance that kept me turning the page long after I went to bed.

Most Resilient Heroines: (Teen)
Ivy in THE REVOLUTION OF IVY by Amy Engel–She takes on her entire desolate town and finds the true love of her life. YA dystopian.

Lulu in MY BEST EVERYTHING by Sarah Tomp. West Virginian high school senior Lulu’s college fund has dried up, but she can’t bear to stay in her small town any longer. So, she enlists the help of Mason to make a fortune selling illegal moonshine. YA contemporary.

Morgan La Fey in SWORD by Realm Lovejoy. Morgan kidnaps a prince, drags him through the swamps of Camelot and helps him find Excalibur–all to thwart a murder plot. And her execution? Wow. YA fantasy.
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Best Action/Adventure:
I AM THE TRAITOR is the final installment in the Unknown Assassin series by Allen Zadoff. You really need to strap in and read I AM THE WEAPON and I AM THE MISSION, first. You’ll thank me. YA contemporary.

Best Enemies to Lovers:
Historical
TO LOVE A TRAITOR by JL Merrow really flipped all my historical British M/M romance switches…
Christmas Romance
IF ONLY IN MY DREAMS by Keira Andrews took two battered hearts and shoved them into a car on a cross-country trek to make it home in time for Christmas. Swoon.

Best erotica:
The CAUGHT ON CAMERA series by Lily Harlem is spectacular M/M romance. Just loved all the sexy sexy bits, and the romance that developed between two new-to-porn stars on a filming trip was tender and lovely.

Best Menage:
M/F/M
THREE TWO ONE by JA Huss. Hot and chilling, by turns. This is a dark romance and not everyone makes it out alive.
M/M/M
SHARING A POND by Alex Whitehall. Frog Shifters. Pretty much knocked me out. Not the sexytimes, as those were satisfactory, but the emotional issues were excellent, and I’ve got a thing for frogs, I think.
Historical M/F/M:
THE MISTRESS AND HER MEN by Julia Talbot. A sassy widow and a daring nobleman–plus some BDSM? Yes, mistress!
Historical M/M/M:
RITE OF SUMMER by Tess Bowery was so loving and tender, and troubled.

Best Near Historical:
IN THE UNLIKELY EVENT by Judy Blume, historical fiction featuring her true-life experience of living in a town where three airplanes crashed within 59 days of each other. Harrowing!

Best Recovery Story:
CLEAN by Mia Kerick. This one gave me chills. M/M YA romance between two guys who’ve been down and out and almost didn’t make it.

book-meme-8Best Subculture:
Who knew the Amish would captivate me? I adored Keira Andrew’s M/M Amish Romances A FORBIDDEN RUMSPRINGA, A CLEAN BREAK, and A WAY HOME. They really touched my heart.

Honestly, I could go on for blogs, and blogs. But I won’t; books to read, books to write after all! That said, I’m looking forward to sharing reviews for great books in the coming year and I hope you’ll enjoy reading along with me.

Feel free to send me your recommendations. Goodness knows, I’ll probably pick it up. (Fiction, and preferably romance-ish, though. I don’t review non-fiction, memoir or cookbooks.)

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!
Book Meme 2

 

Captivated…IF ONLY IN MY DREAMS–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a sweet New Adult reconnection romance from Keira Andrews. IF ONLY IN MY DREAMS Puts former best friends in an awkward position–a cross-country drive in a blizzard. Charlie and Gavin have a lot of ‘spaining to do. And, they get it done.
Like bosses.

If Only in My DreamsAbout the book:
To be home for Christmas, they must bridge the distance between them.
Charlie Yates is desperate. It’s almost Christmas and his flight home from college has been delayed. For days. Charlie promised his little sister Ava he’d be home for her first holiday season since going into remission from leukemia. Now he’s stuck on the opposite coast and someone else grabbed the last rental car. Someone he hasn’t even spoken to in four years. Someone who broke his heart.

Gavin Bloomberg’s childhood friendship with Charlie ended overnight after a day of stolen kisses. With years of resentment between them, they don’t want to be in the same room together, let alone a car. But for Ava’s sake, Gavin agrees to share the rental and drive across the country together.

As they face unexpected bumps along the road, can Charlie and Gavin pave the way to a future together?

My Review:
This is a feel good, frenemies-to-lovers New Adult, coming-out, cross-country-drive romance. Whew! I think I got it all…

Charlie and Gavin were best friends the summer before high school began. On Labor Day weekend they shared one hot kiss–the first for either of them–and the next day it was over. Gavin was dating Candace, cheer captain and otherwise It Girl. Gavin never acknowledged Charlie again, excepting that fateful day in the pizza shop.

Fast forward four years. It’s Christmas break and Charlie is desperate to return to Connecticut to spend Christmas with his family, especially his 8 y/o sister Ava. She had spent the last two Christmases in hospitals suffering the complications of leukemia, but she’s in remission (great story there!) and anxious to see her big brother. Unfortunately, the East Coast had been hit by Snowmageddon and San Fran’s airport is in it’s second day of grounding due to Fog-mageddon. There are no flights out, the buses are overbooked, and Charlie’s desperate. His last-ditch effort is to rent a car and drive the 43 hours, but yeah, no cars.

Well, there is ONE car. It’s been rented, but the driver hasn’t left yet. And, it turns out, the driver is going the exact same way Charlie would be–because it’s Gavin and their family homes are on the same street back in Connecticut. There’s a whole lot of tension in that tiny Jetta!

In the four day drive, they experience the traditional Airing of Grievances, oh wait that’s a Festivus ritual. Well, anywho, Gavin and Charlie slowly reveal their fears and issues. There’s mishaps and mayhem and matching sweaters and pancakes with fake maple syrup. And love. Because Charlie never forgot Gavin, and Gavin always remembered Charlie, no matter how deep he buried him in his closeted consciousness.

It’s such a sweet story, with real guys finding real love. There’s lots of love to go around, in truth. Charlie is a devoted brother to Ava, and they have a deep bond with touching rituals and open affection. Charlie’s parents are care worn but lovely, and include Gavin in their Christmas (because he’s special to Charlie, and because he’s Jewish and has no Christmas tradition). Even Gavin’s shell-shocked parents express a lot of love for him (and reservations! They have big reservations!) that helps heal a rift they didn’t even know existed.

It’s a solid HEA, and a sensational holiday story. It was fun to witness all of Gavin’s “firsts” and to know they were also special to Charlie because his tortured love was now at peace. The forgiveness was strong in this story, and that showed a maturity in these two young men that I totally dug.

Interested? You can find IF ONLY IN MY DREAMS on Goodreads, Amazon, Amazon global, AllRomance, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo, and Smashwords.

Keira AndrewsAbout the Author:
After writing for years yet never really finding the right inspiration, Keira discovered her voice in gay romance, which has become a passion. She writes contemporary, historical, paranormal and fantasy fiction, and—although she loves delicious angst along the way—Keira firmly believes in happy endings. For as Oscar Wilde once said, “The good ended happily, and the bad unhappily. That is what fiction means.”

You can catch up with Keira on her website, Facebook, twitter, and Goodreads.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

Had to KICK AT THE DARKNESS–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a paranormal-zombie-shifter-apocalypse-M/M romance! As you know I’ve loved me some Keira Andrews books, including her gay Amish romance trilogy including A FORBIDDEN RUMSPRINGA, A CLEAN BREAK, and A WAY HOME. When I heard about KICK AT THE DARKNESS, I was nervous. It seemed like there was A LOT going on! I bought it, and set it aside–until I could give myself a bit of time to enjoy it. I just finished it last week, and I’m so glad I didn’t let this one slip past me.

I like to feature paranormal romances in October, and this one is certainly a thriller…

Kick at the DarknessAbout the book:

To live through the zombie apocalypse they have to survive each other first.

College freshman Parker Osborne is having the worst day ever. He humiliated himself trying to pick up a cute guy, he hasn’t made any friends at school, and his stupidly hot jerk of a TA gave him a crappy grade on his paper. He’s going to drop Adam Hawkins’ film class and start fresh tomorrow after he’s had a good sulk.

But Parker’s about to find out what a bad day really looks like—if he can survive the night.

A virus is unleashed, transforming infected people into zombie-like killers. After these quick and deadly creepers swarm campus, Parker only escapes thanks to Adam swooping him onto the back of his trusty motorcycle. Now they’re on the run—and stuck with each other.

When they’re not bickering, they’re fighting off the infected in a bloody battle for survival. Their only hope is to head east to Parker’s family, but orphaned Adam has a secret he’s not sure Parker will accept: he’s a werewolf. Can they trust each other enough to find some light in these dark days?

My Review:
This book was more than awesome.

I’ve had it on my TBR too long. I bought it months ago and never had the chance to read it, due to scheduled blog reads. And, I’ll admit it right now–I was afraid the hype was overblown. That I’d read it and be like: #Meh.

I was SO wrong! I want to kick the darkness out of myself for delaying.

Parker is a freshman at Stanford, and in danger of doing poorly in his film class–the one blow-off class he picked. And blew off. He’s furious with his TA, Adam, who won’t change his grade because Parker is a prick and he did a bad job. Before Parker can drop the class, however, the world descends into chaos as a virus spreads like wildfire across the country–creating zombie-like infected hordes that are out for blood. It is only Adam’s fast pace and even faster motorcycle “Mariah” that saves Parker from becoming zombie-lunch.

This is an adventure which becomes a romance. Parker has no idea that Adam might be interested in him, and frankly, both of them are too busy not getting killed to worry about sexytimes. But they happen, unexpectedly and deliciously! Parker is swooning, quite honestly, when he learns how Adam is such a good protector (insert paranormal element here). It’s not enough to diminish Parker’s ardor, because he fell for the man, first. #AsItShouldBe.

There are entanglements where there should be hospitality which creates a good deal of drama and a daring rescue. While I personally object to “mad scientist” tropes, being a scientist who occasionally gets mad, it worked in this book. I was so on board Mariah, feeling the wind whip through my hair, hoping against all reason that Parker and his family would be reunited.

The end is a lovely and unexpected surprise. #Adored. #ImmediateReRead

Oh, and yummy sexytimes and a solid romance which develops honestly.

Interested? You can find KICK AT THE DARKNESS on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and AllRomance.

Keira AndrewsAbout the Author:
After writing for years yet never really finding the right inspiration, Keira discovered her voice in gay romance, which has become a passion. She writes contemporary, historical, paranormal and fantasy fiction, and—although she loves delicious angst along the way—Keira firmly believes in happy endings. For as Oscar Wilde once said, “The good ended happily, and the bad unhappily. That is what fiction means.”

You can catch up with Keira on her website, Facebook, twitter, and Goodreads.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

They Found A WAY HOME–My Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for the final book in Keira Andrew’s Amish Love series, A WAY HOME. I’ve previously reviewed A FORBIDDEN RUMSPRINGA and A CLEAN BREAK, and I know these books have made an impact on me, not only because they are enjoyable. I really dig books that teach me a bit about another culture, and I can safely say I’ve gotten an insiders peek into Amish life. It is fascinating!
(These are adult reads, and are NOT about religion, only how religion is part of the lives of these men.)

A Way Home (Gay Amish Romance #3)About the book:
Will returning to their Amish roots renew their faith in each other?

Isaac and David never thought they’d go back to the Amish world. But when Isaac’s younger brother is stricken with cancer, they don’t hesitate to return. Their relationship is on the rocks after insecurity and fear drove a wedge between them in San Francisco, and David is determined to make things right. Yet if they thought navigating “English” life was confusing, being back in Zebulon is even more complicated.

Their families are desperate to bring them back into the fold, and pressure from the community builds. Isaac and David yearn for a future together, but each day it becomes harder to hide the truth about who they really are. They’re caught between two worlds, and if they’re not careful it could tear them further apart.

Can Isaac and David make their way back to each other—and find a place to call home?

This is the final chapter in a trilogy of forbidden Amish love.

My Review:
This is the third book in a series. It is recommended that you read in order.

To sum up the series: David and Isaac are two young men from a sheltered Amish community in Zebulon, MN. They had left to find a life together because they are gay and closeted, and can’t persist in the Amish life as gay men. After several months living in San Fransisco with Isaac’s shunned brother, Aaron and his wife Jen, they have some issues to resolve including alcoholism and fidelity.

In this final book, Aaron and Isaac have traveled to Zebulon to provide blood samples for matching to their younger brother, Nathan, who is suffering an advanced nasal cancer. Isaac feels guilty that he didn’t complain about Nathan’s awful snoring when he still shared a room/bed with him–before he left–fearing that his complaints may have caused earlier detection.

Aaron is distraught because he has missed his family for the past decade, and his parents will not speak directly to him, nor will they let him visit his siblings, except Nathan, who is hospital-bound.

David was left behind in San Fran because he was AWOL at the time the summons came, having had a big fight with Isaac and a drunken binge that left him unreachable. Jen helped to clean him up and get him on the way, but he and Issac have a lot to resolve, not the least of which is the status of their relationship. Plus, returning to Zebulon means confronting his choices with his mother and five younger sisters that he had cared for since his father’s death years before.

If you have followed this series, you will note that this final installment is less on the sexytimes and more on the emotional minefield in which Isaac and David find themselves. At every turn they are begged, cajoled and threatened to give up their “English” ways and return to Amish life. They struggle with the desire to have some connection to their families and still be able to life their true life, as gay men.

I was glad the betrayal aspect which remained from the previous book was quickly, and appropriately, resolved. As with any relationship, there are bound to be growing pains, and David and Isaac must acknowledge their shortfalls to each other in order to build a better life going forward.

I have been charmed by David and Isaac throughout this series, and was no less so in this final installment. I was SO GLAD to see their unsettled feelings regarding Zebulon resolved, and to know that life will go on in the positive direction.

The attitudes of the fictional Amish in the book feel accurately rendered and likely, which is both good and frustrating. Good because it lends an authenticity to the story. Frustrating because they are incredibly intransigent, and this causes a lot of heartache. Shunning is the worst kind of “tough love,” an extreme type of emotional manipulation, and while I can understand it, I do not want to condone it, like it or promote it. Still, I felt it, and Like Aaron, Isaac and David, I didn’t want to feel it ever again.

The book is a solid HEA, the series is a solid HEA, and it’s absolutely brilliant. Cannot recommend enough.

Interested? You can find A WAY HOME on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and AllRomance.

A Forbidden Rumspringa (Gay Amish Romance #1)As for the first book–A FORBIDDEN RUMSPRINGA–it is a story of many firsts, told by Isaac. Isaac is the “new” eldest son of his house. I say “new” in quotes, because his eldest brother, Aaron, was excommunicated when he left the Amish community several years before. Isaac is uncomfortable in his Amish home because he doesn’t feel attracted to girls. He’s actually quite attracted to David, an Amish carpenter who takes Isaac on as an apprentice.

Together, they find out about love, and life, during their forays into each other, and the “English” world just outside their settlement. Isaac knows he can never watch David marry, but he never suspects how deep David loves only him. It is a touching story that really got to me. Check out my review for more details.

Interested? You can find A FORBIDDEN RUMSPRINGA on Goodreads, All Romance, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.

A Clean Break (Gay Amish Romance #2)The second book, A CLEAN BREAK, is told from David’s point of view, and it’s a big departure from what I expected. Me, with my moony love for love, thought it would be a hope-filled book with tons of joy and hearts and flowers. The reality is a much better story. It is a struggle for David to adapt to his new life, a life of dependence upon Isaac’s brother, Aaron. David has never been able to lean on anyone, and he wants desperately to take care of Isaac, plus he’s distraught over leaving his mother and sisters behind, to fend for themselves. His worries turn into anxiety and panic attacks which he medicates with alcohol. It’s got a lot of love, but there is a whole lot of growth and change that both Isaac and David must endure in order to make their path in the strange landscape of San Francisco. It is a remarkable story that will resonate. Check out my review for more information.

Interested? You can find A CLEAN BREAK on Goodreads, All Romance, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.

Keira AndrewsAbout the Author:
After writing for years yet never really finding the right inspiration, Keira discovered her voice in gay romance, which has become a passion. She writes contemporary, historical, paranormal and fantasy fiction, and—although she loves delicious angst along the way—Keira firmly believes in happy endings. For as Oscar Wilde once said, “The good ended happily, and the bad unhappily. That is what fiction means.”

You can catch up with Keira on her website, Facebook, twitter, and Goodreads.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

Conflict and Compassion in A CLEAN BREAK–A Review

Hi there! Today I want to share a review for a contemporary M/M romance by Kiera Andrews. A CLEAN BREAK is the sequel to A FORBIDDEN RUMSPRINGA, and it’s just as honest and conflicted as the first book. Issac and David are two young men raised in a very sheltered, xenophobic Amish community, and they have fled because they found love with each other, a love they knew their families would never accept…

A Clean Break (Gay Amish Romance #2)About the Book:
David and Isaac have found happiness in each other’s arms. In faraway San Francisco, Isaac’s brother Aaron helps them explore confusing “English” life and move beyond the looming shadow of their Amish roots. For the first time, David and Isaac can be openly gay, yet they struggle to reconcile their sexuality with their faith. At least they don’t have to hide their relationship, which should make everything easier. Right?

But while Isaac thrives at school and makes new friends, David wrestles to come to terms with the reality of the outside world. Haunted by guilt at leaving his mother and sisters behind in Zebulon, he’s overwhelmed by the hustle and bustle of the city as he works to get his carpentry business off the ground.

While David and Isaac finally sleep side by side each night, fear and insecurity could drive them miles apart.

This is the second chapter in a trilogy of forbidden Amish love. This book features explicit sex and is not an inspirational/Christian novel.

My Review:
This is the second book in a series, and I think it’s best to read these books in order.

Isaac and David have fled their Amish community in Zebulon, Minnesota, and are living with Isaac’s brother Aaron. Aaron had left Amish life ten years ago, and has completely adapted to the ‘English’ life. He got a college degree and is now a teacher, and married to a Filipino woman who is a physician. They live in San Francisco, and are fully willing to support a David and Isaac until they can support themselves. They also fully accept Isaac and David being gay.

This book is told from David’s POV, and David is truly struggling. By leaving he abandoned his mother and four younger sisters. He was the only man of the family and he fears that they are struggling. He is too scared to write and find out however. Adjusting to English life is difficult in some ways, and not in others…

Isaac smiled sadly. “It’s amazing, isn’t it? How quickly we get used to breaking the Ordnung. Practically everything we do here is against the rules. But once you start, it’s easy.”

“Easy not to think about it, at least.” For when he thought about it, David remembered how hard things were in Zebulon. His chest tightened as he imagined how Mother and the girls would be struggling without him. Who would break the ice in the well, or chop the wood for the stove? Or—

As the cable car dropped off its passengers and did a loop around the turntable to face the way it had come, David shook his head as if he could shake free his thoughts. He could never go back. Only forward with Isaac.

Being in San Francisco and seeing openly gay people is a huge culture shock. Isaac and David have believed their love is a sin, but witnessing other men embracing and even kissing helps them to better accept each other.

“I want to worship you,” he whispered. Isaac was beautiful and good, and David wanted him to know it.

Groaning, Isaac dragged David’s head down for a hard kiss as he spread his legs and wrapped them around David’s hips. Isaac gasped, “It doesn’t feel wrong. Does it?”

David could only shake his head, desperate for them to be naked so he could experience the heat and sweat of Isaac’s body against him. Since that first night among the trees with loyal Kaffi standing guard, touching Isaac—loving Isaac—had only ever felt right despite everything.

Not only because of how good it made David’s body feel, but in the way it reached into his soul through every pore. In every shared moan and smile, in every tremble of limbs and press of lips, he was whole.

Their love is strong, but distance does begin to grow. Isaac decides to go to school, and David is nervous to begin a carpentry business on his own. Everything in this place, this new life, is foreign, and David is embarrassed about how little he knows and understands.

“I’m so glad you’re here. If you’d stayed, I don’t know what I’d do. I’d miss you so much I wouldn’t be able to stand it.”

“I’ll never leave you, Eechel. I’m right here. Go back to sleep.” He kissed Isaac’s head.

David stared at the faint pattern of the street lamps through the blinds, shadows and light spreading over the walls and ceiling. His earlier resolve grew stronger with each little shuddering breath Isaac took.

No more procrastination and naps. He’d get his business up and running so he could take proper care of Isaac. He would keep him safe and happy. He wouldn’t disappoint him. As Isaac burrowed close, David petted him and murmured a lullaby he hadn’t heard in years.

David’s struggle is intense and silent. He’s afraid to confide in anyone, to reveal his fears which leads to panic attacks, and further separation from Isaac. Isaac wants David to meet his friends from school, but David is ashamed that he will appear stupid to them, and continually puts it off. Plus, other men are showing too keen an interest in David, and Isaac suspects David wants someone else. There are lots of hurt feelings, lots of empty liquor bottles and lots of tears, but things end on a strained (but POSITIVE!!!!) note.

I can’t believe I love gay Amish romance, but I totally do. This series has me hooked. The feelings are so raw, and there’s a good amount of sexytimes. I am anxious to see how David and Isaac move forward, together, in the next book.

Interested? You can find A CLEAN BREAK on Goodreads, All Romance, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.

A Forbidden Rumspringa (Gay Amish Romance #1)As for the first book–A FORBIDDEN RUMSPRINGA–it is a story of many firsts, told by Isaac. Isaac is the “new” eldest son of his house. I say “new” in quotes, because his eldest brother, Aaron, was excommunicated when he left the Amish community several years before. Isaac is uncomfortable in his Amish home because he doesn’t feel attracted to girls. He’s actually quite attracted to David, an Amish carpenter who takes Isaac on as an apprentice.

Together, they find out about love, and life, during their forays into each other, and the “English” world just outside their settlement. Isaac knows he can never watch David marry, but he never suspects how deep David loves only him. It is a touching story that really got to me. Check out my review for more details.

Interested? You can find A FORBIDDEN RUMSPRINGA on Goodreads, All Romance, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.

Keira AndrewsAbout the Author:
After writing for years yet never really finding the right inspiration, Keira discovered her voice in gay romance, which has become a passion. She writes contemporary, historical, paranormal and fantasy fiction, and—although she loves delicious angst along the way—Keira firmly believes in happy endings. For as Oscar Wilde once said, “The good ended happily, and the bad unhappily. That is what fiction means.”

You can catch up with Keira on her website, Facebook, twitter, and Goodreads.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

They Shared A FORBIDDEN RUMSPRINGA–A Review

Hi there! Here’s a sub-genre I never thought I’d read: Gay Amish Romance. But, I’ve been a fan of Keira Andrews for a bit now and I thought I’d give it a go. WOW!!! FYI:  This is an adult read.
A Forbidden Rumspringa (Gay Amish Romance #1)

About the book:
When two young Amish men find love, will they risk losing everything?

In a world where every detail of life—down to the width of a hat brim—is dictated by God and the all-powerful rules of the community, two men dare to imagine a different way. At 18, Isaac Byler knows little outside the strict Amish settlement of Zebulon, Minnesota, where there is no rumspringa for exploration beyond the boundaries of their insular world. Isaac knows he’ll have to officially join the church and find a wife before too long, but he yearns for something else—something he can’t name.

Dark tragedy has left carpenter David Lantz alone to support his mother and sisters, and he can’t put off joining the church any longer. But when he takes on Isaac as an apprentice, their attraction grows amid the sweat and sawdust. David shares his sinful secrets, and he and Isaac struggle to reconcile their shocking desires with their commitment to faith, family and community.

Now that they’ve found each other, are they willing to lose it all?

Note: Contains explicit sexual situations and graphic language. This is not an inspirational/Christian romance.

My Review:
I never thought I could get so beat up by forbidden Amish love. As a kid I remember seeing WITNESS and being blown away with this quiet, idyllic life–or so I thought!

Issac is 18 and due to begin Church in his sheltered devout Amish community in Zebulon, Minnesota. He has lived here for the past seven years, ever since his sect had broken from a more “worldly” Amish community in Ohio. This community breach occurred because three Amish teens drowned while intoxicated in the period of rumspringa, a time of youthful experimentation (rebellion) in Amish communities that precedes adulthood and marriage. Rumspringa is forbidden in their new community.

In this new community, Issac’s family is less well-off. In Ohio they were allowed to have English jobs and sell their handicrafts openly. Their new locale is far more remote and restrictive. The families must subsist off the land by farming, and minimal sales of wares to tourists. Issac is unsure how to live in this life–he’s not interested in farming–and he also misses his older brother, Aaron, who ran away.

Isaac’s father arranges for Isaac to become an apprentice carpenter, to David a man the community is questioning. David is 22 and unwed. This is strange, and Isaac wonders why David, who is industrious and attractive, is unmarried. He also feels shame for finding David attractive–especially as David’s sister, Mary, makes no secret of her interest in Isaac. All of Isaac’s friends are beginning “dating”, and Isaac has no interest in the women of their community.

Working with David becomes a torture–Isaac is so incredibly, shamefully, aroused by David. The best/worst thing? It seems David reciprocates.

Okay, David TOTALLY reciprocates. And David has a secret life in the “English” world that Isaac never could have dreamed. Together, David and Issac find love, but is it meant to be? There is no homosexuality in the Amish community, and especially not in their even more restrictive sect. Their time together becomes a forbidden rumspringa, and the longer it continues, the more dangerous their feelings become. If they are caught, they will be shunned, leaving David’s widowed mother and five sisters without a provider. Isaac fears his family will also suffer, having two sons who are shunned.

Still, as David takes steps to begin a family life, Isaac realizes that he cannot stay in Zebulon. His heart is David’s and he can’t go on pretending that he’ll one day marry. Isaac finds the courage to make his future outside–and his love is soon rewarded.

This is, without question, an HEA. And the Amish life was so detailed and well-described, I could feel the constriction around my heart for Isaac and David. I had never imagined the Amish life would be so interesting, or complicated. Even Isaac’s siblings feels stifled in this new life. His younger brother, Ephraim, begins to strike out against the many rules of their world. Meanwhile, David’s family is under constant scrutiny–and yet he finds his path rightly. The end is quick and satisfying, with a sequel published and a third book in the offing.

Interested? You can find A FORBIDDEN RUMSPRINGA on Goodreads, All Romance, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.

Keira AndrewsAbout the Author:
After writing for years yet never really finding the right inspiration, Keira discovered her voice in gay romance, which has become a passion. She writes contemporary, historical, paranormal and fantasy fiction, and—although she loves delicious angst along the way—Keira firmly believes in happy endings. For as Oscar Wilde once said, “The good ended happily, and the bad unhappily. That is what fiction means.”

You can catch up with Keira on her website, Facebook, twitter, and Goodreads.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!